Dylan’s Laugharne and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast

For those who have seen my Pembrokeshire – Peninsula of Peninsulas review, you will know I intended to finish the trip with a short visit to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.  On what I understand to be the warmest day of the year I left Pembrokeshire and headed into Carmarthenshire.  On my list of photo locations to visit was Laugharne and I was pleased to arrive there with beautiful blue skies and some nicely shaped clouds.
Most of my photo trips include many miles of walking but in Laugharne, I could park right next to the main locations I wanted to photograph.  Immediately in front of me was the 12th-century Laugharne Castle with a stream and small hump-backed bridge providing an almost perfect foreground to this superbly located fortification.  Although I captured some images with that composition the bridge was, unfortunately, a popular spot with other visitors so after repositioning myself I came across an area of uncut grass with an edge line that provided a perfect lead in to the main subject – the castle.

Laugharne Castle

The River Taf rises in the Preseli Hills of north Pembrokeshire and flows approximately 30 miles through Carmarthenshire to Carmarthen Bay.  It is one of three rivers, along with the River Gwendraeth and the River Towy, to enter the sea on the east side of Carmarthen Bay.  Following the pathway around the front of the castle takes you along the shoreline of the Taf estuary which opens out to a great, broad sweep of water although at the time of my visit the tide was out which as it happens provided inspiring photo opportunities.  I was drawn to the series of different textures and colours and the comparison with the pale blue sky above the distant hillsides.

Taf Estuary

Moving further along the pathway, rather than follow the other visitors who were drawn directly to The Boathouse made famous by Dylan Thomas, I ventured along the sometimes slippery cobbled foreshore to try to get a good viewpoint of the Boathouse and its surrounding landscape.  Even if the poet, writer and broadcaster Dylan Thomas hadn’t lived at the Boathouse in Laugharne for the last four years of his tragically short life, it is a truly remarkable place to visit.  The Boathouse offers wonderful views of the Taf estuary and the Gower beyond; a haven for egrets, lapwings, herons, oystercatchers, seals and otters with fishermen and cocklers continuing the ancient traditions.

The Boathouse – Laugharne

I was only staying on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast for one full day so it was impossible to include all my intended locations.  That being so upon arrival at Llanwit Major late afternoon and with the weather still behaving I took the opportunity to walk down to the beach and westwards along the coast.  Arriving at the beach despite it being the early evening I found it to be quite busy which wasn’t surprising considering the temperatures throughout the day.  The rock formations are one of the main features along this coast and no more so than here.  The steep cliffs at Llanwit which allows walks along the coast to St. Donat’s, my destination, have undergone dramatic erosion in recent years with the result that, in many places, the rock structure has collapsed in piles.  The cliff path once set approximately 100 yards from the edge is now within a few yards of the natural pathway, causing the installation of extensive barriers to prevent fatalities.  Despite this only the week before my visit a young woman died when the cliff collapsed onto her while she was sitting on the beach.  I was pleased to see that evening that the visitors appear to have taken notice of this tragedy.

Llanwit Major Beach

Moving on towards St. Donat’s I arrived at Tresillian Bay.  Apart from one couple sitting on a piece of driftwood, the beach was deserted and on my arrival, they left – not sure what I did to cause this or maybe it was just the weather which was starting to change, but it certainly provided me with some foreground interest.  The beach at the bay lies in front of a valley in which the Nant Tresillian flows and empties in the sea.  It lies along a stretch of coast and cliff path characterised by limestone cliffs with many caves and several bays/valleys.  There is a distinctive white house, Tresillian House, located at the bay at the end of the valley in front of the pebble beach.

Tresillian Bay

Looking at Tressillian Bay you wouldn’t believe that the weather conditions were about to change so I abandoned my plans to walk on to St.Donat’s and returned for the night to my base at Llanwit Major.
The following morning I travelled to the westernmost point of the Heritage Coast at Dunraven Bay and with some walking and driving made my way back eastwards to my starting point. Opportunities were few and far between with access to the beaches often some distance apart.  So with dull overcast skies and time and tides not in my favour, the short visit proved disappointing. Still, there is always next time.  I did manage, what I consider one further reasonable image captured at Monknash.  Monknash beach is mostly rocks and wave cut shore platforms with some low tide sand, and is backed by the usually unstable cliffs of blue lias.

Monknash

The following day I was travelling home and decided to head up through the centre of Wales and the Brecon Beacons but shortly after starting the drive the heavens opened and remained with me for most of the journey.  Oh, how our British weather is so unpredictable.  I travelled through temperatures of almost 30 degrees with blue skies and then 48 hours later it was below 20 degrees with heavy downpours.  Still, without such variations, our landscapes would be not as eye-catching and diverse as they are.
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